The Reason Why CMT Will Honor Only Women At This Year’s Artist Of The Year Ceremony

"We’re evolving the special to reflect what’s happening right now."

You might notice something different about the 2018 CMT Artist of the Year celebration. The annual event, which takes place on October 17, will feature an all-female lineup of honorees and performers.

This year's broadcast will honor Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, and Carrie Underwood, as well as Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman from Little Big Town, and Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum. All of the honorees will perform.


According to Sounds Like Nashville, Lambert will be joined on stage by her Pistol Annies bandmates Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. The show will also feature duets between Ballerini and Alison Krauss, as well as Fairchild and Schlapman with Gladys Knight. Morris will team up with Brandi Carlile to pay tribute to Aretha Franklin.

October 17 will also mark an all-female takeover on CMT's platforms, including digital channel CMT Music and CMT Radio shows CMT Radio LIVE and CMT After Midnite, "to encourage and inspire increased female airplay on show day."

This is a big change, as Variety points out that last year's honorees didn't include a single woman. Additionally, Rolling Stone reports that the recently announced CMA Award nominations featured an all-male Entertainer of the Year category, and no solo female artists in the Single of the Year or Song of the Year races.

"This year, we're evolving the special to reflect what's happening right now in culture and in the lives of our fans," Leslie Fram, CMT's senior vice president of Music & Talent, said in a statement. "In this monumental year for women, dedicating one of the biggest nights in the genre to applaud female country artists not only solidifies our commitment, but we hope will spark a much-needed change in the industry."

Statistics show that the number of country songs by solely female artists on the radio dropped from 13 percent in 2016 to 10.4 percent in 2017. Additionally, Saving Country Music reports that there was only one solo female artist (Carly Pearce) in the top 20 most-played songs on country radio last year.

Carrie Underwood spoke out about this disappointing ratio in a recent interview, saying, "I think about all the little girls that are sitting at home saying, 'I want to be a country music singer.' What do you tell them, you know? What do you do? How do you look at them and say, 'Well, just work hard, sweetie, and you can do it' when that's probably not the case right now?"

Earlier this year, country singer Cam also spoke out about the issue. She criticized the iHeartRadio Music Awards for only nominating men in the Artist of the Year category and tweeted that she had been told women prefer listening to male singers in order to "dream about them being [our] boyfriend." She added her belief that "female consumers are being underestimated / incorrectly blamed for the lack of female artists."

The country music industry obviously has a long way to go in terms of how it represents and embraces female artists, but CMT's latest move is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, the days of all-male lineups will soon be behind us.

Cover image: DFree /


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